prancer – Metamorphosis
Type: Extended-play (EP)
Release date: 18 July 2016
Label: Illuminated Paths / 首都 Tapes, Inc.
- Black cassette, edition 25 (Illuminated Paths, 2016)
- Digital download (Illuminated Paths, 2016)
- Digital download (首都 Tapes, Inc., 2016)
Metamorphosis is the only release from vaporwave artist prancer. It was originally issued as the first half of a split-LP with Mysteronsのマニフェスト on Illuminated Paths, which received both a physical and digital release. Two days later (20 July 2016), it was released as a pay-what-you-want digital edition through 首都 Tapes Inc., a Chinese-German label run out of China. Owing to Illuminated Paths’ enormous output, the version available through 首都 Tapes Inc. is usually the one with which listeners are familiar, and it features an essay from the artist explaining the albums’ themes.
Metamorphosis follows the narrative of someone experiencing mental illness and the subsequent attempts at caring for oneself during the process of getting better. The first two tracks allude to agoraphobia (the fear of one’s outside environment) and dysthymia (less severe but longer emotional troughs than depression). “Hikikomori” is a Japanese word for extreme self-isolation and feeling as if one is shut-in their body and mind, somewhat comparable to the Western idea of agoraphobia but not necessarily incorporating anxiety. The other tracks refer to sounds and experiences used to combat such feelings, including Xanax and being connected to something outside.
Musically, Metamorphosis is twenty-eight minutes of hypnagogic drift music with periods of ambient. It’s spacey and spaced-out, which should be expected given the subject matter. “Operation_Sea Spray” sounds like the lobby music at a cheap oceanside hotel, and it even ends on a couple minutes of waves crashing. prancer plays several instruments on the album, so it’s different from many vaporwave albums in its incorporation of original instruments rather than just keyboards, synthesizers, or audio-studio effects.
The blurb from 首都 Tapes Inc. says that the album is subtle, but perhaps it’s too subtle: quite a few of the songs are nothing but ambient washes with the errant additional sounds, and the narrative described in the music is not quite given the justice it deserves. Many of the tracks stay within their lugubrious affect that does not sound to evoke the different mental disorders and impressions of life that are implied by the track titles and accompanying materials. If prancer were to focus more on the individual experience of each tracks to tell the narrative espoused in the story, then it would be a much more successful EP rather than sound like another ambient album.
1. Agoraphobia – (4:06)
2. Dysthmia – (3:39)1
3. Hikikomori – (3:18)
4. xanax – (4:40)
5. Operation_Sea Spray – (4:06)
6. Ciccadas 3301 – (4:16)1
7. Gaia – (4:30)